​”Plan B”

I didn’t expect the Van to get through its MOT this year, not a chance because of its age and usage but I didn’t expect to be thinking of implementing plan B at this stage…

There is structural damage and axle damage which, according to the MOT centre will need welding; however, they don’t do such a thing, so I’ve had to book it into a repairs centre to see what they can do. They need to examine, see it if it a weld job or a write off job or “whatever”. “Whatever” does not bode well, but I’m more worried about the vehicle being written off, so my “plan B” may have to come into force at the end of the month.

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Plan B is a van park up permanently to provide protection at night, with removal/scrappage at the end of placement, which would be early June, to move into a car/campsite(s) for last two weeks at uni. I, fortunately, have access to another car (as it was recently offered to me) so transporting myself around won’t be an issue.

It would be a shame to lose the vehicle at this stage as we have so many more plans for it. It has flown through 15 years of MOTs without structural issues, nor any advisories relating to it, so to happen now and to such an extent has been worrisome. Yes, its had heavier use since uni started but has not exceeded 10,000 miles since I’ve purchased it over a year ago… it’s just about hitting that (it was on 118,000miles when I purchased it, 127,000 now)… surely the damage would have been picked up sooner?

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Whatever the outcome I’ve planned ahead. It’s a rough plan, it’ll do for now. There’s only seven full teaching weeks left, ten overall inc holidays. I just didn’t need this added stress, but these things happen – always have a “plan B” somewhere (I also have a plan C, D and Z!). Roll on the 23rd (or maybe sooner if a family friend can help out) when I will fully know where I (and the van) stands.

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I’m just saddened at the thought of the possibility of not having it for much longer as I’ve grown attached to it but grateful I’ve had the opportunity to experience the van life; I will just miss the adventures with it, so hoping everything will work out ok once it’s been looked over again.

-Just Joanne

Busy, busy

“But don’t you get lonely?”

That’s often the first question people ask when they find I’m dwelling in my van, 160+miles away from family and friends, and to be honest, the answer is always “sometimes”. Everyone gets lonely at some point, but I don’t feel as if I any get lonelier than others? I keep myself busy. I’ve just been hearing this question a lot more recently as visiting members of school staff are informed that there is someone staying in a van on site. Many are fascinated by the thought of it but are then confused when they expect to see some Instagram worthy beaut and see my little monster instead. Haha.

Speaking of monsters, my van has been a pain recently with the heating cable. It has decided that the cable must be in the most awkward and delicate position before it will spew out any heat via the fan. A challenge I was willing to undertake at first but no matter how I try to fix the cabling it slowly decides to shift itself and I’m left with having to pull up along the roadside to ‘fix’ it again. When my patience gets better I will take a serious look at it.

I’m still getting out and about it in and stopping at some wonderful places. The weather is getting warmer so I’ve been able to sleep within additional clothing and front window condensation has been dramatically reduced. Summer is coming!

I’ve been very humbled these past few weeks by the generosity of others in providing me with shelter, food, conversation and warmth – the lower level of my hierarchy of needs are being supported by their good will and I am grateful for this. My higher needs are being steadily fulfilled within the placement. I’ve done so much and at the end of the week, I am tired but happy tired. It has been interesting so far, especially experiencing the longer activities during the day and the energy young children seem to possess (more so after they’ve eaten their body weight in food!).

So I’ve been mining, gorge walking, a mini via-ferrata, hill walking, on low/high ropes, orienteering and beach exploration!

Just a few photos below of the activities:

Fisherman’s Walk and low ropes:

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Cwm Idwal and Conwy Mountain:

Both were equally fun. We looked at a lot of the geology, rock formations, history and flora and fauna of both areas. The only difference being with Conwy Mountain was the hill fort at the top and being able to discuss slingshots and use the rocks to create routes for the teams to navigate with!

I’ve also been taking one too many pictures of the curious sheep within this area:

These are Lleyn (pronounced ‘Kleen‘) sheep (named about the Lleyn Peninsula in North Wales) and are identified by the lack of wool on the legs and face, their white faces with black noses and lack of horns. These sheep almost became extinct in the ’70s! Their use today is their fine wool and meat. They are curious and will approach you until you make any sudden unexpected movements. Still not as lovely as the Herdwick.

One day I will own a sheep. Or maybe several. I might just Sheep Trek instead…!!

I just wanted to add in these photos from Anglesey. I’ve never seen such iridescent waters as we did on this day. The sea was in a swathe of blue hues and it just looked so unnatural but equally mesmerizing. The camera did not capture its beauty and I doubt I’ll ever see anything like this again.

These few weeks have been busy and have passed quickly. I only have seven teaching weeks left within this placement, an action research project to complete, a couple of outdoor course assessments, a couple of weeks at university then it’s all over! In the meantime, I shall be heading back home, the Isle of Wight, Peak District and some caving and I still have no idea what I’m doing this summer or beyond! Fun times.

-Just Joanne

​Snow time!

I’ve relocated to Betws-y-Coed for my second PGCE placement. The first few weeks of this year have gone so quickly and again, we’ve done a lot as a group. I’ve covered a lot of it in my Back to Uni… post but I didn’t mention Blwch y Plwm mine, Borth-y-Gest nor the snow…

Living in the van is still proving interesting. It now makes a ‘chugging’ noise like a train when it starts up from the cold and I’ve had to remove important papers from the vehicle due to them getting damp… still, it’s cosy at night time. My placement has said I can park up on site when the centre is in use and use the showers and toilets there. So that’s two fewer worries. They even feed me lunch!

I didn’t see much of the snow during uni whilst still in Bangor. I was in Swindon (now dubbed Swindonia) when it hit, then when I returned it had gone… so, a trip back to Swindonia was needed to actually have the opportunity to play in it!

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Terry and I decided to visit one of our favourite places in England just for a couple of hours walking and admiration of our favourite views. The Worcestershire Beacon, the highest point in the Malvern Hills at 425m (1,394ft), you can see three counties from its point. Once used as a signalling beacon, in 1588, it formed part of a chain of warning fires which were lit when the Spanish Armada attempted to invade England as well as being lit for commemorative events, such as coronations of various kings and queens.

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It was a glorious day albeit a tad windy! As you can see, Bailey enjoyed the chill on his face!

Then I blinked and I was back in Bangor! I’ve joined a popular canoe/kayak club as I want to improve my skills in this area and their first yearly trip out was great fun!

The group paddled over Pontcysyllte and Chirk aqueducts in Llangollen and through the Whitehouses and Chirk tunnels before ending at the Poachers Pub for refreshment!

Anybody who has ever been to Llangollen would have seen the Pontcysyllte aqueduct, it is the longest aqueduct in the UK and the highest in the world at 38m (126ft) high (336 yd (307 m) long, 12 ft (3.7 m) wide and 5 ft 3 in (1.60 m) deep). It was fun to paddle across with the drop on the right-hand side!

The group is really fun and involving. I recognised a face when I turned up… turned out it was the woman who interviewed me for my PGCE place! Small world indeed!

In our last week at uni, we got to spend the morning at Borth-y-Gest looking at beach activities for younger students. Terry and I have visited this place several times and each time it gets more beautiful than the last! I just wanted to post some photos here of this wonderful place.

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My first week in placement is over. Centre work is much different from working within a school – it’s not as fast paced but is longer throughout the day. It will take me some time to get used to it. The centre itself is lovely and very well organised. The council supports what they do so they have good equipment, happy staff and regular schools attending (the 2020 calendar is 90% full already!). It’s an amazing place to be a part of and I hope my time spent here is enjoyable; it will be interesting to work with much younger students than I’m used too, I just don’t think I’ll hear much, if anything, disgusting about gross bodily parts, unusual bodily functions and who is ‘doing’ whom from this age range…!

Just Joanne

2019 Van Resolutions

Inspired by ItsHerVan’s recent New Year’s Van Resolutions post, I thought I would make a couple of my own for my Van.

  1. Firstly, to spend more time keeping it clean – it’s like a teenager’s bedroom in the back!
  2. Secondly, I need to keep an eye on the drainage in my van. The rain and gunk collected underneath the wipers which then drained into the passenger footwell via the heating system. Due to the cold weather, the footwells haven’t fully dried yet so I will need to ensure this doesn’t happen again.
  3. I need to ensure I only take things I will use and need. This currently has been a success, as some summer weather gear is back in Swindon, but I’ve still packed in a lot of books I know I probably won’t get around to reading…
  4. To ensure my tires are replaced… two down and two to go!
  5. To get another van key cut and find a place to put it (on the outside)! A moment of panic on a night out when I realised I’d locked the keys in the van and needed the help of a policeman to open the door without breaking the window…

The joys of Van life.

I’ve just renewed the road tax and MOT is due in April, so fingers crossed it will pass without issues as I need it to last until the end of June… the worst of the weather hasn’t hit yet so am a bit concerned about that. *fingers crossed*

I haven’t selected any New Years resolutions for myself… well, maybe one and that’s to get a job after this course!

Here’s to 2019!

Just Joanne

 

Time sure does fly…

I haven’t had the time to update this blog since I started my first placement on this PGCE course.

It has been a mixed bag of emotions until this point and with four weeks left I hope it’s still going to go ok. There were times where I felt like giving it all in. I am an emotionally led person and it’s hard to remain logically minded when the lack of self-confidence, low self-esteem and anxiety rears its head. At times I had to get back into nature, outside of the brick walls, noise and constant challenges and just remind myself what I enjoy and what all of this is in aid of. I’ve set myself a goal, broken it down into smaller goals and just trying to achieve it bit by bit!

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I have learnt so much in such a short space of time, namely, what is right for me and what I want for me; so hopefully, I can make it all happen at some point in the future!

I wish I could tell you about all the fantastic things I’ve been up to but, honestly, its mostly been working in a school, writing lesson plans, creating lessons, assignment writing, visiting the cinema to relax and just generally working…

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I’ve some positives recently which I would like to share…

  • I’m confident my first assignment will pass, I thoroughly enjoyed researching the outdoor/adventure activity theories and have considered a Masters in the subject. Mortlock and Priest have resonated with me and I would like to explore the Adventure paradigm a lot more.
  • My Forest School Level 3 Leader/Practitioner training has been ratified, I just now need to wait a little while longer to be officially registered and receive my certificate then I will be a qualified leader.
  • I’ve taken some beautiful photos of North Wales recently, so am looking at photography training after this course to take better pictures.

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With only four weeks on this placement to go, I’m hoping the remaining weeks are going to be ok. The staff are sympathetic as P.E is not my knowledge base and they have been a wonderful help to me; I’m just looking forward to being in a centre next, being outside every day come rain or shine (or heavy North Wales snow!) climbing, walking, canoeing etc….

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– Just Joanne